Monday, October 13, 2014

The Sound Of Silence

Sometimes you can tell more from what someone doesn't say than you can from the blather. Cue Pam Bondi's latest.
The sole issue on appeal is whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires states to allow same-sex marriage. That is unquestionably an important issue, and the Plaintiffs, the State, and all citizens deserve a definitive answer. Until recently, the issue was squarely before the United States Supreme Court, and it appeared that a definitive answer was coming. Several certiorari petitions from several states asked that Court to take up the issue and rule. 
Even those who had prevailed below sought Supreme Court review. The United States Supreme Court had the opportunity to answer the question with a decision binding on all citizens. That decision—had there been one—would have ended these cases and all others like it. 
Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court decided not to answer the question. Last Monday, it denied the pending certiorari petitions. The Supreme Court therefore appears unlikely to pro- vide finality on this critical issue in the immediate future. 
Florida’s courts will therefore need to resolve the issue without further United States Supreme Court guidance.
On part of this I'm completely in agreement with Bondi. Yes, we need an answer. But pretending that the Supreme Court didn't give specific guidance, by their silence, is election eve pandering at its worst.

What could they have meant by nearly doubling the number of marriage equality states overnight? Where did I put my crystal ball?

Drop the appeal Pam.


Anonymous said...

Bondi and Scott looking for political cover for bigotry, appealing to their tea party base. Anything to avoid election fallout. Once the Florida Supreme Court rejects their position, they will keep going because the Supreme Court "needs to decide." These are your tax dollars people--are they being well used?

Anonymous said...

As an attorney, I was disappointed in the Third District Court of Appeals’ decision reversing Circuit Judge Ronald Dresnick’s order that the Miccosukee Indian tribe pay a $3.1million judgment awarded in 2009 to the Bermudez family, whose relative, Liliana Bermudez, was killed a result of two tribe members who were driving drunk. It’s unconscionable that an innocent family is destroyed, while tribe elders have flouted the judicial system with no thought to compensating the Bermudez family for its unspeakable loss.

What I’m most troubled by is the payment of $3.1 million in legal fees to Guy Lewis and Michael Tein by the Miccosukee tribe — whether the money is viewed as a loan from the tribe to the two tribe members or as a direct payment of legal fees from the tribe to Lewis and Tein. The two tribe members early on admitted their criminal culpability and civil liability. The only question in the civil case was damages — how much should the tribe members be required to pay the Bermudez family for the loss of their wife and mother?

In today’s hyper-litigious society, the most prestigious lawyers in the best law firms are sometimes paid up to $500 per hour to represent clients in complex civil cases. Neither Lewis nor Tein practice in that rarified environment. Yet, assuming they were paid at the rate of $500 per hour, and allowing for $100,000 of the $3.1 million in legal fees to be used for investigative services, to actually earn their $3-million fee Lewis and Tein would have to have spent 6,000 hours on a case in which the only issue was the amount of damages. Inconceivable and ludicrous.

Clearly, by any calculus, Lewis and Tein received a substantial amount of unearned money.

As members of the Florida Bar, and especially because of the egregious underlying facts of this case, they would be well advised to donate a significant portion of their windfall legal fees to the Bermudez family. There is no law I know of that would require this; nor is there any pressure I know of that the Florida Bar or the legal community can bring to bear to persuade them to donate a portion of their fee to the Bermudez family. It would be an act of kindness.

I am hopeful Lewis and Tein will re-read their Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar and, upon reflection, do what is right. The Bermudez family deserves this act of kindness, however belated it may be.

Robert J. Bondi, assistant U.S. attorney (retired), Miami

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